The Habitual Be of Ebonics

I studied a little ebonics while at Cal State Fullerton. I learned so many cool characteristics of the language, one of those was the habitual be. You’ve probably heard it spoken but not heard “of” it.

In the field of linguistics, we have observed a “habitual be” in ebonics. This is not simply a grammatical error. It is actually an identifiable, quantifiable language rule that is present in some African American dialects. Whether or not you accept ebonics as a standard language doesn’t matter, we see the habitual be many many places on the globe.

Today’s SoCs prompt was to write on the word “be.”

What does it sound like? Basically this: “She be working at that shop for years.” It precedes the verb (working) to mean that she has been there a long time. There are other uses of the habitual be. I found it quite remarkable in grad school studies. Since graduating with my MA, I notice it all the time in movies, tv, books, and in my every day work as a teacher at an inner city school.

This post is part of Blogging From A to Z April (2016) Challenge

Author: Damien Riley

I'm a blogger, film critic, & podcaster with an MA in English from California State University, Fullerton. I teach public school, 4th grade as my primary occupation. My views on films and life are usually headstrong and often 'left of center' on movies and life, but I have respect for the other side. I married my high-desert princess (now my queen). We have 3 children.

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